February 19, 2018

IQs of East Asians

One of the major arguments against heredetarianism is the claim that East Asians’ higher IQs than Europeans is merely a result of effort, and are in fact an example of effort raising the IQ of an entire group by about 4 points relative to 100, which is presumably what they would score if they were as “lazy” as Europeans.

There are 3 reasons to be highly skeptical of this claim:

1. The results of East Asian adoption studies

2. The global patterns of East Asian IQ scores and low verbal IQ relative to their other scores

3. Facts strongly suggestive of genetic causation of the White-Asian differences – such as myopia, the scores of mixed-race East Asians and specific gene variants East Asians have compared to Europeans.

Adoption Studies

Results of four adoption studies:

Country Age Asian Score Number Reference
Holland 7 108 36 Stams 2000
Belgium 10 110 19 Frydman 1989
USA 3-4 115 25 Clark and Hanisee 1982
USA 8-12 119.58 43 Gildea 1992

Results from Winick 1975

Group IQ Number
“Malnourished” 102 36
“Moderately nourished” 106 38
“Well nourished” 112 37

Children were admitted at Holt Adoption Service, and were in three groups:

1 – Malnourished: below 3rd percentile in height and weight

2 – Moderately nourished: 3rd to 24th percentile in height and weight

3 – Well-Nourished: 25th percentile plus

The fact that these adopted East Asians perform at or better than East Asians raised by East Asian parents calls into question the value of that parenting. It’s possible that some adoptive parents provide the same kind of intensive environment that the East Asian parents create, but there’s no particular reason to believe that. Especially five times in a row.

  1. A Global Pattern and Subtests

The IQs of racial groups in the United States, including East Asians, has been covered in detail here.

This includes data from the NAEP, TIMSS, PISA, ACT and IQ tests, that puts the East Asians in the US at 103.3 to the US Whites 100. And the East Asians do relatively worse on verbal tests than on mathematical tests in every single test in every single year.

Britain – UKCAT scores

Group Verbal Quantitative Non-Verbal Number
White British 101.1 100.2 101.3 145,340
White Irish 101.3 100.0 99.8 492
Chinese 100.8 109.6 112.1 519

Brazil – Fernandez 2001

Race Raw Score IQ Number
“Asian” 38.5 104.3 186
White 35.5 100 735
“Brown” 25.2 85.1 718
Black 15.8 71.6 223

Studies collected by Lynn 2006

Group Reasoning / Arithmetic Verbal Visual-Spatial Study
Chinese in Canada 103 97 106 Vernon, 1984
Chinese in Canada 99 103 Kline and Lee, 1972
Chinese in Canada 97 105 Peters and Ellis, 1970
Chinese in Holland 102 85 Pieke, 1988

I hunted down the Pieke study, and it was very interesting because it was looking at the offspring of first generation immigrants, some of whom had begun schooling in China, and so this is a real, bona fide example of how Chinese for whom Dutch is a second language perform compared to other ethnic groups in Holland for whom Dutch is their first language:

Group Arithmetic Score Verbal Score
Dutch 70 72.5
NW Europeans 69 70
Chinese (Parents 1st Gen immigrants) 73 61.5
Turks 51 52
Moroccans 49 52
Suriname Creoles 47 56
Suriname Hindis 53 56.5

That Chinese immigrant children are out-performing multi-generational Turks and Moroccans on verbal tests, but probably never passing the European verbal scores, is evidence of just how overwhelming genetics is, and how rapidly environmental factors just melt away since, presumably, the Chinese in Holland are now at about at the level of Chinese in Canada in terms of verbal score in their respective language.

And the global pattern is overwhelming. East Asians have higher IQs everywhere and it’s always on nonverbal tests. The idea that it’s down to “Asian languages” just seems weird for two reasons; first of all, this relatively lower verbal score persists into 3rd and 4thgenerations, and second of all, these East Asians are beating every other group except Whites in verbal scores.

So this “cultural” disadvantage that impacts language but not math is precise enough to set East Asians just below Europeans on verbal scores, but above everyone else, and it stays that way for multiple generations even as East Asians beat out the Whites on math? And this is supposedly true in Brazil, Canada, the UK, Holland, and most extensively documented the US?

A tortured environmental explanation for this is unnecessary when genes can explain it:

“East Asians are genetically geared toward mathematical and visual-spatial intelligence, less toward verbal, and that’s why they score higher on that than on verbal in every country at every point in history on every large-scale IQ or IQ-like test ever given.”

In addition, their overall IQ or IQ-like scores are always higher than the white population in every country they go to if not immediately, eventually.

  1. Things Suggestive of Genetic Causation

    There are three things suggestive of genetic causation of the European / East Asian IQ gap. Mixed race East Asians / Europeans, knowledge from specific genes, and prevalence of myopia (nearsightedness).

Mixed Race

First is the results, as presented by Richard Udry in 2003, from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health. In it he found that the Picture Vocabulary Test (PVT) score and GPAs of White / Asian hybrids were intermediate in both PVT and GPA.

Race % “High GPA” % “High PVT” Number
White 32.27 26.98 463,364
White / Asian Hybrid 37.58 23.08 583
Asian 43.16 20.99 4,133

This is interesting because Europeans do better on the PVT, but worse on GPA. And the hybrids score lower than Europeans but higher than Asians on the PVT, and lower than Asians but higher than Europeans on GPA.

This is a bizarre level of precision for the White-Asian IQ differences to be down to environment.

Rushton 1997 looked at the Collaborate Perinatal Project. He found that average IQ of the East Asians in the project was 114, Europeans 102, and the hybrids were 103. However, of the 37 hybrids, 32 were white / asian, and 5 were asian / black. Under heredetarian assumptions, this should have cost the hybrids 1 point.

While the hybrids in this sample were a bit lower than heredetarians would predict given the very high 114 IQ of “pure” East Asians in the sample, the hybrids were still intermediate; besides, it was a small sample.

Specific Gene Data

As outlined in another article on this site, David Piffer showed that, on 9 gene variants that are associated with intelligence (positively or negatively), East Asians did “better” on 6 of the 9 genes compared to Europeans (either having less of a “negative” allele or more of a “positive” allele).

Obviously we have a long way to go until molecular genetic evidence can tell us much about group differences in IQ (if we went my molecular genetics studies, we’d have to believe that there was almost no genetic component to variation in height), but the limited data that exists evidences a genetic component to the East Asian / European IQ gap.


Last is near-sightedness (myopia). Myopia is robustly associated with higher nonverbal IQ. Myopia has a heritability of about 0.42. According to Douglas R Fredrick, about 70-90% of East Asians are myopic, 30-40% of Europeans are myopic, and only about 10-20% of Africans are myopic. This is just one more line of evidence that the differences between Europeans and East Asians are largely a result of genetic differences.


For any of these things in isolation, you can come up with an environment-only explanation.

The problem is that so many lines of evidence point to genetics, and an environmental explanation would have to explain the pattern of intelligence in east asians (relatively lower verbal) and higher IQs – all around the world and for decades.

It would have to explain the intermediate scores of mixed European-Asians, the coincidences of higher rates of myopia and East Asians having certain alleles that predict higher IQs.

Not only can a genetic explanation explain this data – all of these things positively bolster a genetic explanation, while an environmentalist orientation would at best just have to cope with all of this.

Facebook Comments
  • weknow

    What do the environment-only crowd say when they see these studies?

  • djkhaled

    have you not considered the fact that visuospatial ability in blind people is usually far higher that the average, even if they were not born blind. Of course it would be ridiculous to say that all blind people are predisposed with this ability, hence indicating that it must have a very strong environmental basis as well. Thus to base the “supremacy” of this ethnic group on such a characteristic would be to blindly neglect the myriad effects that general cultural trends also have. The human genome project has also provided evidence that there is in fact no genetic difference between the “races”, which are thus exposed to be mere social constructs and any general trends in traits within these groups can be explained by the variations in culture that exist.

    • Medieval Knievel

      Wow, highly original thoughts. We’ve never thought about these objections before.

      Don’t you know that everythings a social construct goy. Everythings fake bro.

      • djkhaled

        This is not my view exclusively, it also just happens to be the view of the scientific establishment. Anlalysis of the results of the human genome project by the worlds leading geneticists (including data from china and japan if you’re that bothered) showed that of all the possible human genetic variation, itself an infinitesmially small percentage of our genetic code, only 3% of this occured between the racial groups. Compare this to the average 6-10% variation that occurs within these groups and you begin to see that the only real differences between the groups are superficial appearance and culture.
        This is scientific fact matey, instead of the ill-informed conjecture that this article is interlarded with.

        • Medieval Knievel

          There is no scientific consensus when it comes to race. That is a myth. Yes we already know about the genome project shit. It is a bad argument. Just because we share 99 % of all DNA means nothing. We also share 98 % of our DNA with chimpanzees but yet there are significant differences. Also your reciting lewontins fallacy. We have heard all these before and have pointed out the faulty reasoning.

          • djkhaled

            so the fact that intelligence could in fact be controlled by several thousand dna bases might mean that a general iq difference would be slightly outside of that 3% possible variation?

            And btw i really respect your opinion, its just i like to base my opinions on people who, you know, know what the fuck they are talking about. People like, say, a world leading geneticist on the human genome project.

          • djkhaled

            Your arguments got more holes in it than donald trump’s tax return history. I just had a look at the uk cat score data you quote. It also shows that the difference between indians and pakistanis in quantitive and visuospatial reasoning was 6+ points, even though they are effectively the same group (genetically or whatever shit you want) . Do indian genes stop at the indian-pakistani border or something?? The same applies between travelling irish and white british groups. Again, effectively the same race or whatever, but this time a 12+ point difference in these two categories (quantitive and visuospatial). Does this not suggest that they have high environmental influence?? Oh no sorry I suppose my leftwing eyes probably read it wrong or some shit

          • Medieval Knievel

            There are differences within races. Not sure how that disproves us.

          • djkhaled

            yeah, differences so large that the eclipse the differences between the races, exactly. Back to my original point. nice one bro

          • djkhaled

            fine example of scientific bias, quoting your own info.

          • Medieval Knievel

            This isn’t hard stuff. A 1 percent difference is enough to create a lot of differences between humans. Same with 3 percent. Why do you think that chimpanzees and humans are significantly different despite our DNA being mostly the same.

          • djkhaled

            So yeah right ok that whole 3% is ALL on the intelligence genes yeah?? sick one

          • djkhaled

            and actually with current genetic knowledge of intelligence (according to national geographic) the difference between the highest and lowest iq groups was 0.2% of what we currently know.

          • Medieval Knievel

            Not sure what you’re trying to say here

          • djkhaled

            Ok plain english then, (for the benefit of a clearly low iq reader LOL, ironic), 0.2% OF THE GENES WE KNOW CONTRIBUTE TO INTELLIGENCE WERE DIFFERENT BETWEEN THE TWO GROUPS OF HIGH AND LOW IQ.

          • Medieval Knievel

            Actually the most genetic variation between the races has been found in the brain. http://bmcevolbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2148-11-16

          • djkhaled

            The brain does a lot of stuff mate (although perhaps yours doesn’t). The data quoted in that website actually said the highest variation of genes occured in the ones which controlled organ development.

          • Medieval Knievel

            And nervous system.

          • djkhaled

            yeah do you know what that is?

          • djkhaled

            Its what controls primarily your reflexes and reactions and how fast nerve impulses are transmitted throughout the whole body. nothing to do with intelligence

          • djkhaled

            Im bored of this argument anyway so keep your opinions to yourself

          • Medieval Knievel

            The nervous system is connected directly with the brain. The brain is the center of the nervous system. Not to mention that the brain is an organ meaning that there are significant differences in the brain between races.

  • Mark Martinson

    “What do the environment-only crowd say when they see these studies?”

    I don’t know of any comprehensive critiques of the hereditarian position (well not recent at least).

  • vchan2177

    The studies do not document the “number of hours” Asians study at home compared to non-Asians. When any group study more hours than another group and they both take the same test, the former group will do better. I am Asian and I took the strategy that if my non-Asian college students typically study 8 hours to prepare for a final exam, then I will study 16 hours. There were times that I study ALL NIGHT and ALL MORNING in order take the exam the next day. Future studies need to ask the right questions. UC Berkeley Graduate in Engineering 1969.

    • Ryan Faulk

      Doesn’t apply for IQ tests since nobody studies for them. Also they’re designed to not be studied for; and the subtests that east asians do better on aren’t vocabulary or information but the more abstract reasoning abilities.

      • vchan2177

        My point is: “Knowledge is accumulative”. I agree that nobody study just prior to IQ tests. However, if a group of people acquire more knowledge than a second group, then the former group will do better without preparation for the IQ test because that former group has indirectly prepared for the IQ test during the previous years. They should ask parents how many hours their children spend studying academically per week from age 5 to 12. They should compare the IQ tests with the same academic study time regardless of race. They may discover that the IQ test results are the results of cultural differences and study times and not biological. As a Asian, I would love to brag that my IQ is higher but I cannot. My father told me I live in a “white man’s world” and I have to study harder to overcome this disadvantage.

      • Ronald Tdump

        People may not always study for IQ tests directly (some people do) but they can be more exposed to mental activity patterns that exercise some faculties that give some edge on supposedly neutral tests. Like different neural organizations derived from reading scripts of different complexity and reading direction. It even impacts brain lateralization.

        • Elizabeth Artola

          Brilliant! Neuroplasticity should be taken into account, there’s also epigenetics.

  • Borisz

    In the “Fernandez 2001” study White brazilians have an IQ of 95, and Asians have an IQ of 99, the data you are showing here is wrong

    The link is broken btw, but I found the book on google.

  • Daniel Winter

    Myopia is correlated to “hours spent reading books”. See Gutenberg Health study, University of Mainz, Germany, 2017. They performed a longitudinal study using university students; those who spent more time reading books were more prone to developing severe myopia over time. We also know “Hours spent reading books” is a factor from the socio-economic environment handed down by parents. That should explain a good portion of the spurious correlation between IQ and myopia.

  • Elizabeth Artola

    There are certainly socio-economic factors at work, neuroplasticity to consider, and subsequent epigenetic effects which over a large span of time may become genetically fixed i.e. natural selection. Ultimately, it’s a complex and multivariate issue, but I think genetics still plays a role. However, many people forget that few things are inherent in the absolute sense. Racial attributes, strengths and weaknesses (which equalize in the end) have everything to do with haphazard adaptation to a particular environment over time and not some innate god given supremacy. Many people on both sides lack the emotional maturity to deal with this issue objectively. I’m hispanic and in no way offended that my race tends to score on the lower end when it comes to iq whether due to socio-economic factors or genetics.